Disabled sailor Geoff Holt, who has sailed single-handed across the Atlantic, says he could not have done it without support from Raymarine.
Quadriplegic yachtsman Geoff says Raymarine’s navigation, communication and safety products have been vital in completing his Impossible Dream Atlantic Challenge. Geoff sailed from the Canary Islands to Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, where he had a swimming accident at the age of 18 that left him paralysed from the shoulders down.
Geoff – previously the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain – says, “Raymarine kit provided all of my navigational aids and I could not have done it without them.”
Geoff’s 60ft (18m) catamaran, Impossible Dream, was custom-designed for a wheelchair user. Raymarine ensured the electronic equipment could be easily operated either by remote control or rotary controls during the gruelling 2,700-mile journey, as Geoff has no fine finger movement.
Geoff’s boat was equipped with C Series Widescreen multifunction displays. Together with overlaid information from the radar, electronic maps, and the AIS (Automatic Identification System) transceiver, which showed other vessels in the area, Geoff received vital up-to-the-minute data.
Two additional navigation stations using ST70+ repeaters and C90 Widescreen displays were set up on deck, on both port and starboard, so Geoff could control the boat easily from his wheelchair. Also on board was that absolute necessity, a Raymarine autopilot. Geoff slept by the main navigation centre so he could see, assess and alter his course without having to move from his bunk.
Geoff says, “Raymarine’s C140 multifunction display with Automatic Identification System (AIS) was vital in course plotting and seeing other ships, and the autopilot was also absolutely essential in steering the vessel.
“The wind instruments were crucial, particularly Apparent Wind Angle (AWA) and Apparent Wind Speed (AWS) when sailing the yacht from inside at night, especially downwind.”
For ship-to-ship, and ship-to-shore communications, Geoff used a Raymarine VHF/DSC radio, with a three station set-up, enabling him to send and receive calls both on deck and from the main saloon.
In case of accident, Geoff, his carer and cameraman who also went on the trip but took no part in the sailing of the vessel, were equipped with a Raymarine LifeTag Man Overboard System.
Understandably, it was an emotional voyage for Geoff. “If feels wonderful to have achieved my Atlantic Challenge – a dream come true – but I am delighted it’s over and to be back with my family.
“The biggest issue I had to overcome was coping with my disability in big seas with the boat constantly moving – which was very difficult for my carer, Susana, who was looking after me, and uncomfortable for me.”
The trip has dented none of Geoff’s enthusiasm for adventure and he says he could be the person to mount a round-the-world challenge. “I have no immediate plans, but I’ve proved it would be possible for someone with my disability to sail around the world, a journey that would take four months, but it would need a bigger boat and a properly funded programme. If that were put in place, then I think I’m the man to do it.”
For more information about Geoff’s Atlantic Challenge, see www.geoffholt.com